Jared Savage

Jared Savage is the New Zealand Herald's investigations editor.

Crims plan using gaming consoles

Gaming headsets are being used to plan crimes. Photo / Thinkstock
Gaming headsets are being used to plan crimes. Photo / Thinkstock

Criminals are using headsets from gaming consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation to plan drug smuggling operations because conversations are private, police say.

A classified police document shows criminals are using technology - including the privacy allowed by gaming consoles - to evade detection.

"Criminal use of new and emerging technologies has significant implications for law enforcement communications intercept capabilities, counter intelligence and other operational security issues," says a classified police intelligence document.

The National Strategic Assessment document, released under the Official Information Act, says understanding criminal use of mobile communications technologies is likely to be increasingly crucial to the success of law enforcement.

"Consequently, there is an ongoing requirement to identify and understand contemporary communication technology trends in order to keep law enforcement abreast of developments that may impact on the success of operations."

In recent years, most sophisticated drug rings have been cracked after crucial evidence was gleaned from tapped telephone calls or text messages, even if messages were in code.

This has forced criminals to find new ways to speak with each other - including online games played on Xboxes and PlayStations - or voice over internet protocol software such as Skype.

Popular titles such as Call of Duty allow gamers from across the world to play - and speak privately - with each other over the internet.

While most gamers use the microphone headsets to sledge other players, police believe criminals use the gaming consoles to plan drug smuggling instead of email or cellphones.

One of those was drug kingpin Daniel Hsu, jailed for more than 17 years after 5kg of methamphetamine was found in his North Shore home.

And last year, detectives bugged an apartment in the exclusive Metropolis tower in Auckland's CBD to eavesdrop on a jet setter they allege took a top role in a criminal ring selling designer drugs.

They placed the bug after attempts to intercept the man's private conversations were thwarted by "military grade" encryption technology on his phone and email, as well as using Skype software to talk with his alleged co-conspirators.

- NZ Herald

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